Synopses & Reviews
Despite its centrality to its field, there is no consensus regarding what rhetorical theory is and why it matters. The Ethical Fantasy of Rhetorical Theory presents a critical examination of rhetorical theory throughout history, in order to develop a unifying vision for the field. Demonstrating that theorists have always been skeptical of yet committed to "truth" (however fantastic), Ira Allen develops rigorous notions of truth and of a "troubled freedom" that spring from rhetoric's depths. In a sweeping analysis from the sophists Aristotle, and Cicero through Kenneth Burke, Chaim Perelman and Lucie Olbrechts-Tyceta, and contemporary scholars in English, communication, and rhetoric's other disciplinary homes, Allen offers a novel definition of rhetorical theory: as the self-consciously ethical study of how humans and other symbolic animals negotiate constraints.